French perfumer Dora Baghriche talks about her latest creation for Chopard’s Happy fragrance collection as well as the responsible sourcing of raw materials in the industry.

SINGAPORE (July 1): The first spritz is an intoxicating mist of creamy, ripened oranges and honey with an underlying layer of sparkling citrus and fresh green notes. At that very moment, I am four years old again, wearing candy necklaces as the pastel-coloured beads slowly disintegrate into a sticky mess around my neck. It is a fragrance that proves sweeter than expected, I think to myself, as I throw on another three to four sprays for good measure.

About an hour later, while on my way to the office on a sweltering morning, I begin to detect a deep, bitter tartness emanating from my skin under the sugariness — like candied orange peel, or an Old Fashioned with a dash of Angostura. This aura seems to fade in and out throughout the day before finally settling into a veil of woody, amber musk on my skin — a subtle blanket of warm emotions waiting to be rejuvenated upon the next application of Happy Chopard Bigaradia, the third and latest opus of the Happy Chopard Eaux de Parfum collection.

The undulating olfactory experience that Bigaradia delivers is in line with its creator Dora Baghriche’s philosophy that happiness is never one-dimensional. She says the path to attaining it is lined with different moments of euphoria and appreciation, of taking risks and, most importantly, of letting go.

“I had already expressed joy and energy with Lemon Dulci, and of witnessing a new morning with Felicia Roses,” she recounts of her first two fragrance creations for the Happy Chopard line. “With Bigaradia, I wanted to express the happiness of being excited by the moments that come your way and, more importantly, letting go of all the negativity in your life to just be surrounded by music, friends and simply everything and everyone around you,” Baghriche tells Options during her visit to Singapore for the launch of Bigaradia in May.

“Bigaradia is really reflective of my way of living, my personality and my love for taking chances — all while still being able to let go. You can go all out to take a chance in life, but when things don’t happen your way, ultimately what makes you happy is the ability to let go of negative thoughts and say, ‘I’ve tried. [Despite setbacks or disappointment,] I will continue to enjoy the excitement of life anyway.’ That is also my outlook in life.”

Nature, food and reminiscence

Orange blossom fragrances are not uncommon in the perfume market, but Baghriche wanted to express a more complex palette of emotions and creativity by paying tribute to the bigaradier or orange blossom plant as a whole. As such, she decided to create an “overdose” of natural ingredients based on all parts of the plant: from the purest of orange blossom absolute and Neroli bigarade petals yielded from hand-picked fresh flowers, to the Petitgrain essential oil obtained from distilling the leaves and twigs of the tree itself, and even essential oils made from a cold expression of the orange peels.

To further complement this tribute to the orange blossom plant, the perfumer has injected her own touches with ingredients such as black sesame, carrot and honey. “I choose to use carrot seeds in Bigaradia because carrots bring to mind vitamins, youth and light. At the same time, black sesame is often linked to celebrations in Oriental countries [as it is a common main ingredient for desserts and candy, as well as traditional cuisine across various Asian cultures]… Honey is a surprising note in the scent, but is also an ingredient everyone can relate to,” she elaborates.

Similar to Baghriche’s first two creations for Happy Chopard, F&B flavours are translated into fragrance notes — forming Chopard’s proprietary library of STT (Smell the Taste) ingredients, like Carrot STT — which are integral to the creation of Bigaradia. This is important in invoking a sense of familiarity from the fragrance wearer, she explains: “These ingredients are part of everyone’s memories. People may not necessarily recognise something, like carrot, by its smell — but they will be able to identify it because of the taste. A lot of STT scents are inspired by ingredients people have experienced long ago or for most of their lives, for example, chocolate and nuts. It’s like bringing a dose of déjà vu to the perfume.”

As she was born in Algiers and spent some years growing up in the Mediterranean before moving to the south of France, Baghriche’s childhood memories are filled with scents and sights of the sea, her home garden and even orange blossoms.

“In my case, the orange blossom is not just a scent, but also a taste. As a baby, I would drink orange blossom water. I couldn’t sleep without it. It has been part of my life since I was born… Orange blossom is also key to Mediterranean cuisine and culture. The [Happy Chopard] collection cannot be without it, because it’s very much a symbol of positivity, luck and generosity,” she shares.

Journey to sustainability

In line with Chopard’s Journey to Sustainable Luxury initiative, the Happy Chopard range of fragrances is made with premium natural ingredients that are responsibly sourced through the Naturals Together programme: a platform created in 2014 to unite the world’s best raw materials, artisans and suppliers with a common vision of achieving social and environmental awareness. To Baghriche, this represents the “most powerful programme in the perfume industry” — one that commits to bringing conscious creations to the market.

“It’s very important for us to involve ourselves in the process of sustainability now. Many years ago, we [perfumers] were working from our labs and most of us didn’t care about how things were made. But now, we can’t turn a blind eye. We have a responsibility as human beings and as part of an industry that creates consumer products. Naturals Together allows us to be more directly in contact with farmers, producers and communities so that we can help them to be more and more eco-friendly — for example, by providing them with innovations to help them use less water or less harmful substances,” she says.

“[The Naturals Together programme] is a work in progress. We are not perfect yet, but we are constantly improving the way we can extract ingredients from nature. It’s really about the process: using less water, finding new technologies to extract resins from trees without harming them and so on.”


Five minutes with Kim Lim

Options speaks to Kim Lim, the 27-year-old daughter of Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim and the new face of Happy Chopard Bigaradia

Would you describe yourself as an avid fragrance collector?

Yes. I don’t really count the fragrances I own, but I probably have about 40 scents right now. Bigaradia is the first Chopard perfume in my collection. When buying a fragrance, the decision I make is never based on its brand, but the smell. I’m a person who appreciates all kinds of scents.

What do you like most about Happy Chopard Bigaradia?

The orange fruit scent is what appeals to me the most. There are some very nice orange, summery notes in it that take me back to my days of studying in London, when I was 15 or 16. It reminds me of the summers spent with my friends there, and these are some of the memories that I treasure the most. This perfume is so versatile that it would suit any occasion. It’s a very youthful, happy, carefree scent that caters for any scenario: dinner, parties or even everyday wear.

Do you strive to be more environmentally and/or ethically conscious?

I was never all about the whole ‘reuse, reduce, recycle’ movement until my son recently started attending nursery. His school really focuses on environmental sustainability, and encourages parents to bring newspapers, cardboard, straws and plastic items for recycling. That’s when I also started to become more conscious. So, now I drink directly from the cup instead of using a straw and bring my own bags to the supermarket. Of course, Happy Chopard is also the first sustainable line of fragrances in my collection. In these ways, I’m taking small steps to being more environmentally responsible so that I can be a better person for my son as well [that is, leading by example].


Happy Chopard Bigaradia is now retailing at Takashimaya, Sephora and BHG in 40ml and 100ml bottles for $109 and $189 respectively. Visit www.chopard.com for more information.